Why the Animal Care Industry Needs a Robust Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

Every industry, from finance to healthcare, requires a steadfast approach to securing operations. The animal care industry, which plays a critical role in ensuring the welfare and health of our beloved animals, is no exception. As an IT company, we cannot stress enough the significance of having a Business Continuity and Disaster recovery plan for your animal care establishment. Here's why the animal care industry needs a robust Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan.

Dependence on Digital Systems is Growing

From patient records to billing, scheduling to procurement – modern animal care facilities increasingly rely on digital tools and software. The loss of such devices, even temporarily, can cripple operations and jeopardize animal care.

Natural Disasters Can Strike Anytime

Hurricanes, floods, fires, or earthquakes can have a devastating effect on physical infrastructures. In the blink of an eye, a facility can be rendered inoperable, placing the animals and the business at risk.

Cyber Threats Are Real

The digital age brings the risk of cyber-attacks, data breaches, and ransomware. Protecting sensitive data is not just a legal obligation but is critical for maintaining the trust of your clients and stakeholders.

Steps to Create a Robust Continuity and Recovery Plan

Risk Assessment

Begin by identifying potential threats – both digital and physical. Understand the vulnerabilities of your existing system. This could range from unprotected patient data to a lack of backup power solutions.

Prioritize Critical Functions

Not all functions are of equal importance. Prioritizing will help ensure that the most critical operations are restored first during an outage or disaster.

Develop a Communication Plan

During a crisis, effective communication is vital. Whether it's to notify staff about operational changes or inform clients about the status of their animals, a communication strategy will keep everyone in the loop.

Data Backup and Recovery

Digital data should be backed up regularly, both onsite and offsite. Consider cloud solutions for added redundancy. Regularly test your backups to ensure they can be restored quickly when needed.

Physical Infrastructure Protections

For those in areas prone to natural disasters, think about structural reinforcements or relocation options. Invest in backup power solutions to keep critical systems running during power outages.

Train Your Team

Everyone should know their role during a crisis. Regularly review and rehearse the plan with your team to prepare them to act swiftly and decisively.

Review and Update Your Plan

A continuity and disaster recovery plan is more than just a one-and-done deal. As your business grows and evolves, so should your plan. Regularly review, test, and refine your strategies.

In the animal care industry, we deal with lives that depend on our timely and effective care. Just as we wouldn't compromise on the quality of medical tools or facilities, we shouldn't compromise on the systems that underpin our operations. Remember, it's not just about protecting your business; it's about ensuring that no matter what, our furry friends are always taken care of. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your practice build a sureproof Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan, please click here.


What Is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery and Why It Is Important For Your Business

In today's fast-paced and interconnected business landscape, small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They are agile, innovative, and essential drivers of growth. However, they also face unique challenges, particularly in safeguarding their operations against unforeseen disasters and disruptions. That's where Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery come into play. In this blog post, we will ask what Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are and why it is essential for your business. These concepts are vital for small businesses and how they can ensure the survival and prosperity of your venture.

Understanding Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) are strategic processes designed to ensure that a company can continue to operate or recover swiftly in the face of unexpected events. These events can range from natural disasters like floods, fires, and earthquakes to technological disruptions like cyberattacks, hardware failures, or data breaches.

The Importance of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for Small Businesses

Minimizing Downtime:

Downtime can be catastrophic for small businesses, leading to significant financial losses and eroding customer trust. BCDR strategies minimize downtime by establishing plans that allow for a quick recovery of essential operations.

Protecting Data and Assets:

Small businesses often need more resources, making them potential cyberattack targets. A robust BCDR plan ensures that critical data is backed up and can be restored, protecting sensitive information and intellectual property.

Meeting Regulatory Requirements:

Many industries have specific regulatory requirements for data protection and business continuity. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal issues, and reputational damage. Implementing BCDR measures helps small businesses stay compliant.

Preserving Reputation:

Small businesses rely heavily on reputation and customer relationships. A well-executed BCDR plan ensures that the company can maintain its commitments to clients and partners, even during challenging times, preserving its reputation.

Securing Business Growth:

A small business that demonstrates its ability to handle unexpected disruptions is more attractive to investors and partners. A comprehensive BCDR strategy can open doors to growth opportunities.

Getting Started

Creating an effective BCDR plan involves several key steps:

Assessment:

Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities specific to your business. What are the most critical processes and data that need protection?

Planning:

Develop a detailed plan outlining how your business will respond to different scenarios. Assign roles and responsibilities, and establish communication protocols.

Implementation:

Implement the plan with backup systems, data recovery mechanisms, and necessary security measures.

Testing:

Regularly test your BCDR plan to ensure it works as intended. This includes testing data restoration, employee training, and communication procedures.

Continuous Improvement:

Adapt your plan as your business evolves, technology changes or new risks emerge.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are not just "nice-to-haves" for small businesses; they are essential for survival in today's unpredictable world. Investing time and resources into developing a solid BCDR strategy protects your business and secures its future, enabling growth and fostering trust with your customers and partners. Don't wait until disaster strikes – act now to build a resilient and thriving business.

Contact our Disaster Recovery Specialists here if you want to get started on your business's BCDR plan. They can help you create an effective strategy for your business right away.


What is social engineering and how it can negatively affect your business.

In today's interconnected world, where technology plays a central role in business operations, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has become more critical than ever. While organizations invest heavily in firewalls, antivirus software, and other technical safeguards, there is a relatively less talked-about threat that can bypass these defenses and exploit the weakest link in any security system: human beings. This insidious threat is known as social engineering. Let's dive into what social engineering is and how it can negatively affect your business.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering refers to manipulating individuals to deceive them into revealing sensitive information or performing actions compromising an organization's security. Instead of exploiting technical vulnerabilities, social engineering exploits human psychology, emotions, and social norms to gain unauthorized access or obtain valuable data.

Types of Social Engineering Attacks:

Phishing:

Phishing attacks involve sending fraudulent emails, instant messages, or other communication that appear to be from a reputable source. These messages often trick unsuspecting users into clicking on malicious links, providing login credentials, or downloading malware-infected attachments.

Pretexting:

Pretexting involves creating a false scenario or pretext to deceive individuals and gain their trust. This technique often involves impersonating a trusted person or organization and manipulating victims into divulging sensitive information.

Baiting:

Baiting attacks entice individuals with the promise of something desirable, such as a free download or a physical item, to persuade them to take actions that compromise security. For example, an attacker might leave infected USB drives in public spaces, hoping that curious individuals will pick them up and connect them to their computers.

Tailgating:

Tailgating occurs when an unauthorized person gains access to a restricted area by closely following an authorized individual. This technique exploits people's tendency to hold the door open for others without verifying their credentials.

Negative Impact on Businesses:

Data Breaches:

Social engineering attacks can lead to significant data breaches, exposing sensitive customer information, trade secrets, or proprietary data. This can result in severe financial losses, reputational damage, and potential legal consequences for businesses.

Financial Losses:

Social engineering attacks can lead to fraud, unauthorized fund transfers, or identity theft, causing substantial financial losses for organizations and their customers.

Damage to Reputation:

If a business falls victim to a social engineering attack, its reputation can be severely damaged. Customers may lose trust in the company's ability to protect their information, leading to a decline in sales and difficulties attracting new customers.

Operational Disruptions:

Social engineering attacks can disrupt business operations, as compromised systems may require extensive remediation and recovery efforts. This can lead to downtime, loss of productivity, and increased costs associated with incident response.

Prevention and Mitigation:

Employee Education

Regularly train employees on social engineering techniques, identifying phishing emails, and verifying requests for sensitive information.

Implement Security Policies

Establish robust security policies and procedures, such as multi-factor authentication, strong password policies, and encryption of sensitive data.

Incident Response Plan:

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to handle social engineering attacks effectively. This plan should include steps for containment, investigation, and recovery.

Security Awareness Culture:

Foster a culture of security awareness within the organization, encouraging employees to report suspicious activities and promoting a proactive approach to security.

Social engineering attacks continue to pose a significant threat to businesses in the digital age. Understanding attackers' techniques and implementing robust security measures are crucial to mitigating this risk. By educating employees, establishing security protocols, and fostering a security-aware culture, businesses can enhance their resilience against social engineering attacks and safeguard their valuable assets and reputation.


Essential Cybersecurity Practices for Remote Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically transformed how we work, with remote work becoming the new norm for many organizations. While remote work offers numerous benefits, it also brings its fair share of cybersecurity challenges. As more employees access sensitive company information and systems from home, organizations must prioritize cybersecurity practices to safeguard their digital landscape. Let's explore essential cybersecurity practices for remote workers, helping businesses maintain robust security in an increasingly virtual work environment.

Strengthen Password Security:

Strong passwords are the first line of defense against cyber threats. Remote workers must adopt good password practices, such as using complex and unique passwords for each account. Encourage the use of password managers to store and generate strong passwords securely. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.

Secure Network Connections:

Remote workers often rely on home networks or public Wi-Fi, which can be vulnerable to attacks. Encourage employees to secure their home networks with strong, unique passwords for their routers. Encourage the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to encrypt internet connections and ensure secure data transmission, especially when accessing company resources remotely. To learn more about the importance of a VPN for your business, please see our blog post here.

Update Software Regularly:

Outdated software is a common entry point for cybercriminals. Remote workers should regularly update their operating systems, applications, and security patches to protect against known vulnerabilities. Employ automated updates whenever possible to ensure employees run the latest, most secure software versions.

Implement Robust Endpoint Protection:

Endpoint security protects remote work devices from malware and unauthorized access. Ensure all remote work devices, including laptops and mobile devices, are equipped with up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software. Enable firewalls to prevent unauthorized access and configure devices to lock automatically after a period of inactivity.

Educate Employees on Phishing and Social Engineering:

Remote workers are often targeted through phishing emails and social engineering tactics. Provide regular cybersecurity awareness training to educate employees on identifying and reporting suspicious emails, links, and attachments. Encourage a culture of skepticism and vigilance when interacting with unfamiliar or unexpected communication.

Enforce Data Backup and Encryption:

Remote workers should be encouraged to regularly back up their work-related data to secure cloud storage or external devices. Implement robust encryption protocols to protect sensitive information during transmission and storage. In a security breach or device failure, regular backups ensure that critical data remains safe and accessible.

Monitor and Control Access:

Implement access controls and privilege management to limit access to sensitive company data and resources. For secure access, use robust authentication methods, such as biometrics or smart cards. Regularly review and revoke access privileges for employees who have changed roles or left the organization to minimize the risk of insider threats.

Establish Incident Response and Reporting Procedures:

Despite implementing robust cybersecurity measures, incidents may still occur. Establish clear incident response procedures that outline steps to be taken in the event of a security breach. Encourage employees to report any security incidents promptly to the designated IT personnel. Conduct post-incident analyses to identify weaknesses and improve security protocols.

As remote work reshapes the modern workplace, organizations must proactively address the evolving cybersecurity landscape. By implementing the essential cybersecurity practices outlined in this blog post, businesses can mitigate risks and maintain a secure digital environment. Prioritizing password security, securing network connections, updating software, educating employees, and implementing robust endpoint protection are critical steps toward safeguarding your organization's valuable data and infrastructure in the remote work era. Stay vigilant, adapt to emerging threats, and ensure cybersecurity remains a top priority for your remote workforce.


Total Data Protection - UCS Blog Article

Total Data Protection

According to FEMA, as many as 60% of small businesses never recover after a disaster and are forced to close, highlighting the importance of maintaining backups that can keep systems running. Businesses need infrastructure in place that provides total data protection for their critical components. Datto’s Unified Continuity product family offers the solutions necessary to protect businesses from data loss due to power failures, flooding, security breaches, and human error.

Protecting the Business Data No Matter Where It Lives

Datto Unified Continuity includes a layered approach to protecting all critical business data across server infrastructure or SaaS applications. In today’s business environment, critical data is stored in physical, virtual and SaaS environments, all of which are equally vulnerable to natural disasters and malware. If any of that data is lost or breached, companies are vulnerable to significant revenue loss and even failure. Unified Continuity protects against ransomware, accidental deletion and disasters, providing business owners with peace of mind knowing they can restore data in seconds.

Why Haven’t You Heard of Datto?

While Datto protects over 500,000 small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) with their technology, Datto is a channel-only company serving over 14,000 MSPs. That means you won’t be able to go online and buy a Unified Continuity product without working with on of our partners like Unique Computing Solutions. And we do that for good reason: our MSP partners have the skill and technical expertise needed to deploy our products. We choose to sell through this highly skilled channel in order to ensure you (business owners) are getting the service you need for your unique challenges.

Why haven’t you heard of Datto? Because your IT service provider is our customer. Aligning yourself with a Datto partner means you are aligning yourself with the best in continuity services. It means your critical data is backed up. It means you will stay in business no matter the data loss scenario.

The Best Total Data Protection Available

Reliable storage options that scale, extremely fast recovery times, and 24/7/365 Direct to Tech support.

Datto builds the world’s easiest to manage and most dependable business continuity and disaster recovery products available today. Offering data production solutions for businesses for every size, regardless of infrastructure. Datto Continuity services provide automated local backup on robust hardware purpose-built for data protection and replication to the secure Datto Cloud. With our Instant Virtualization technology, business can be up and operational within seconds of an incident. Our suite of business continuity products includes the DATTO SIRIS, DATTO ALTO and DATTO NAS, all managed within a single web portal.

All-in-One Business Continuity

Ensuring your customer’s business is always on and resilient to disasters, SIRIS is an all-in-one solution that includes verified backups, restore options for any scenario, instant virtualization, and ransomware protection. SIRIS is backed by Datto’s private cloud so backup, failover, and recovery can be performed locally or in the cloud with no additional configuration. Streamlined business continuity solutions save time, money, and headaches. Every component of the SIRIS stack is built by Datto to seamlessly work together, from the backup agent, to the SIRIS software platform, to the private Datto cloud.

Raising The Bar for Reliability

Reliability begins with knowing your backup is always good. Datto eliminates the need to worry if the system will boot or be recoverable by automatically verifying backups will boot with all data intact and no ransomware, giving you 100% confidence in your backups and ability to restore. With backup you can count on and the ability to failover and restore from anywhere, we can deliver a high level of service to our customers.

Maximizing Uptime

Going beyond simply recovering data, business continuity saves businesses by keeping them online in the face of otherwise devastating issues such as ransomware, malware, natural disasters, network downtime and costly human errors. Datto’s breadth of restore tools are fit for any job and designed to get you back to production faster by taking out the guesswork. Backups are stored so that any snapshot can be used to restore or virtualize. Restore options range from granular restores which can target specific files to full system restores which include instant virtualization to keep your customers online. With the ability to immediately get back up and running from the Datto Cloud, you will have an edge when local competitors lack the ability to bounce back as quickly.

With robust solutions, advanced security features, and state-of-the-art technology, Datto is a clear choice when building your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategy. Unique Computing Solutions has been a provider of Datto Solutions for many years and we are proud to offer a product that exemplifies the core beliefs we rely on for supporting our clients and protecting their infrastructure. If you are in the midst of a disaster, looking to upgrade your BCDR Strategy or starting from the ground up, the team at UCS and Datto is here to help! Please contact our office to learn more about these solutions and how they can integrate with your business or industry.


Poison Attacks 101 - UCS Blog Article

Poison Attacks 101

Smart technology is everywhere. Not just in our offices, but even in our day-to-day lives with tools like Google Home and Alexa becoming a commonplace. With technology becoming smarter every minute, the risks are increasing by the minute as well. Cyber-criminals are finding new ways to corrupt our IT networks to disrupt our businesses, hold our data hostage and even clear out personal bank accounts. Some of the more overt, commonly known acts of cyber-crime include hacking, phishing, and ransomware attacks. This article discusses a lesser-known cyber-crime. Let's take a look at Poison Attacks 101.

What Are Poison Attacks

Poison attacks are attacks on the ability of a system to make smart decisions. Think about this for a second. How do systems make intelligent decisions? Based on the training or data they receive. This data is used to hone the artificial intelligence of the system to help make smart decisions. Poison attacks mess with the very base layer – the training data set - by skewing the system’s data model in such a way that the output is no longer as intended. They create a new normal for everything and are primarily used as a backdoor attack method. In a backdoor poison attack, the attacker creates a loophole in the core data rule and trains the system to adhere to that rule so it can be exploited at a later time.

For example, let’s say the access control for a particular file is set such that it will allow only those beyond the VP level to view the data. If someone changes the main parameter to include manager level access, the core data set is violated and the system will not detect an intrusion by someone at the manager level, even if they log in with their credentials.

Poison Attack Methodologies

Poison attack methodologies typically fall into one of the following 4 categories:

    • Logic Corruption
    • Data Manipulation
    • Data Injection
    • DNS Cache Poisoning

Logic Corruption

In Logic Corruption, the attacker changes the basic logic used to make the system arrive at an output. It essentially changes the way the system learns, applies new rules and corrupts the system to do whatever the attacker wants.

Data Manipulation

In Data Manipulation, as the name suggests, the attacker manipulates the data to extend data boundaries that result in backdoor entries that can be exploited later. Unlike Logic Corruption, the attacker doesn’t have access to the logic, so they work with the existing rule and push data boundaries further with a view to accommodate them later.

Data Injection

In Data Injection, the attacker inserts fake data into the actual data set to skew the data model and ultimately weaken the outcome. The weakened outcome then serves as an easy entryway for the attacker into the victim’s system.

Protecting Yourself Against Poison Attacks

Data poisoning by way of logic corruption, data manipulation and data injection happens when the attacker finds a way to access your data set. The kind of poison attack varies depending on the level of access the attacker is able to achieve. Here’s what you can do to ensure such access is prevented:

  1. The data poisoning attacks discussed above adversely affect your IT system’s machine learning capabilities. So, the first logical step would be to invest in a good machine learning malware detection tool. These tools are different from the typical anti-malware tools you get in the market and are specifically designed to prevent machine learning capability poisoning.
  2. Always follow general IT security best practices such as:
    • Training your employees to identify spam, phishing attempts, and possible malware attacks.
    • Following good password hygiene, which means never sharing passwords and only using passwords that meet the required security standards.
    • Having a powerful IT audit process, tracking and version control tools, so as to thwart any possible insider attack.
    • Ensuring the physical security of your IT systems by way of bio-metric access, CCTV systems, etc.

DNS Cache Poisoning

In one of the most common poisoning attacks, the attacker poisons the DNS Cache with the aim of leading visitors to a fake website. In a DNS cache poisoning case, the attacker gains control of the DNS server and then manipulates cache data such that anyone typing the URL of the actual website is redirected to the fake one. This could be a phishing site where the attacker would have carefully laid out a trap to capture the unsuspecting victim’s personal data or secure information. For example, the visitor thinks they are logging into their bank’s website online, but are actually on the attacker’s phishing site, where they enter the login credentials.

Protecting Yourself Against DNS Cache Poisoning Attacks

As discussed before, one of the most common poisoning attacks are DNS attacks. You can prevent this by bringing a trained professional onboard for your DNS server set-up. An expert will know to set up your DNS server such that it has a minimum relationship with other, external DNS servers, thus limiting your attacker’s ability to corrupt your DNS server using theirs.

As a best practice, ensure that your DNS servers only store data related to your domain and not any other information. It is harder to corrupt the system when it focuses on a single element.

Another best practice is to ensure that you are up-to-date on all DNS security mechanisms and are using the most recent version of the DNS.

Ensure your site has an SSL certificate and is using HTTPS protocol. Using encryption, a site with HTTPS protocol allows for a more secure connection between its server and the internet and is better at keeping cyber-criminals out. Have an SSL certificate also ensures your site’s name shows up alongside the URL in the address bar. This is an easy way for visitors to identify if they are on a genuine site or not, thus helping them steer clear of phishing attacks and clone sites.

Data poisoning is one of the lesser-known and hence less talked about forms of cyber-crime. But, it can inflict great damage – perhaps even more damage than the other obvious threats such as viruses and ransomware, because, unlike a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack or a Ransomware attack where you know the moment the malware has hit your system, in a data poisoning attack, the malware is incorrect data that slithers into your system quietly and changes its overall functioning before delivering the big blow.

Preventing attacks on your data and infrastructure is where Unique Computing Solutions specializes with comprehensive Managed Security Service packages an a complete team of professionally educated technicians to back it all up. Give us a call today to see how we can help improve your security from day one: 708-922-9444


Employees and Cybersecurity - UCS Blog Article

Employees and Cybersecurity

For any organization, employees are the biggest asset. But, what happens when your biggest assets also turn out to be your greatest threats and liabilities? Let's take a moment to talk about Employees and Cybersecurity. That is, after all, how cyber-crime can change the game.

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SMB Security Tips - Our Top 7 - UCS Blog Article

SMB Security Tips - Our Top 7

A massive global shift to remote working environments has created an open-season for cybercriminals. No business - big or small - is safe. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) seemingly have a target on their backs, so strengthening your company's security posture is essential right now. This process doesn't have to be stressful or time consuming. There are simple ways to protect business data against ransomware attacks right away and long term solutions to help your business boost resilience to cyber attacks. Here are a few of our top SMB security tips and suggestions:

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Windows Feature Updates - What, Why, How?

Over the past few years Microsoft has worked heavily on creating a new style of Windows OS that is packed full of features, applications and optimizations that have helped countless number of organizations and users transition into the modern, technology driven environment we all experience today. We’ve all seen the ads on TV, or the stickers on devices when you walk into an electronics store, and it’s likely that the most significant of these upgrades you have experienced in recent years was the move from Windows 7/8 to Windows 10.

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Data Security And Risk

We hear a lot of talk about data security because of the constant threat of cyber attacks and hacking. News of data breaches are now a common occurrence in our daily life. As a result, we are exceptionally concerned about the branding and reputation consequences of a data breach. However, there are other events which could occur that make your data inaccessible. It is important to know you are doing the best you can to protect against cyber attacks, ransomware and other forms of data theft, but data security goes beyond that.

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